Wednesday's delayed vote is part of the rebuilding effort in Somalia, which was shattered by more than two decades of conflict and where clan loyalties still tend to trump policy in politics.

Campaign billboards of presidential candidates in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, February 6, 2017.
Campaign billboards of presidential candidates in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, February 6, 2017.

Somali lawmakers gathered behind the blasted walls of the capital's airport on Wednesday to elect their president, after months of delays and following threats from Islamist insurgents bent on derailing the process.

The protracted vote began with 14,000 elders and prominent regional figures choosing 275 members of parliament and 54 senators, who in turn now choose whether to back President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud for a second term or one of 21 rivals.

TRT World spoke with Matt Bryden, former coordinator for the UN monitoring group on Somalia, on the electoral process and the challenges ahead.

Security key to success of election

Somali officials blocked main roads in the capital Mogadishu and banned vehicles from driving near the airport on Tuesday in a security lockdown ahead of the election.

Somalia and its Western backers dropped an initial plan to give each adult a vote because of the challenge of securing national polling stations.

Instead, about 14,000 clan elders and regional figures chose the 275 members of the lower house of Parliament and 54 members of the Senate. Those lawmakers will pick the president on Wednesday.

President Mohamud is seeking a second term in office. He is facing accusations by Western donors of corruption in his government. Analysts say he can rely on the loyalty of about a third of the new electors, giving him an edge against his 21 rivals, but not a guarantee of victory.

The country is also struggling to rebuild after two decades of conflict, and an ongoing insurgency by al-Shabaab militants.

"Police forces will secure the election scene and streets, and the vote will take place peacefully as planned," Mohamed Sheikh Hassan Haamud, Somalia's police commander said.

Presidential candidates have promised to improve security and the economy. The construction boom in the bombed out capital has yet to spread far across the rest of the nation, where a severe drought is threatening a new food crisis.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies